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Monday, August 31, 2009

Moose and Lederhosen

I spent this weekend traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah, to visit an old friend. Keep in mind that was originally the only reason. I wasn't terribly excited to see the actual city/state at all but saw it as a means to an end to see my friend. Luckily, after two and a half days I found that I had come to love this place so strangely similar to my Oregon childhood.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

After a flight delay, I landed around 10pm, was promptly picked up my friend and then taken out to a dive bar called "A Bar named Sue" near her house. The bar was rather large with tables scattered around a few pool tables. It was relatively clean and well lit but I can't say the same for the clientele, who were relatively dirty and drab. It reminded me a little bit of a truck stop that served drinks. I swallowed a few beers and then found myself in the parking lot where I watched some drunk people pile into taxis while the rest found themselves behind the wheel of their car (hmm). The highlight was definitely one guy who dropped trow in the middle of the parking lot in an attempt to show his attraction for some girl. So far a very strange state...

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

We woke bright and early and enjoyed breakfast and the view from my friend's patio. Today we would be driving up to Park City to see this infamous site of the Sundance Film Festival. Park City is about 20 minutes away from Salt Lake and is composed of the ski lodge and lifts and Main Street. Main Street is similar to Queenstown, New Zealand and Aspen, Colorado, a small ski town with a lot of character, a bunch of art galleries, and strangely a lot of ice cream parlors?

One such ice cream parlor was Cow, which featured a flavor called Messy Bessy, a collection of HeathBar crunchies, chocolate ice cream, and toffee (I think). While chowing down on our ice cream we walked the length of Main Street and I felt it was necessary to buy the following shirt simply because "Seriously?"

After 30 minutes or so checking out Park City, we then drove in the direction of Big Cottonwood Canyon, home to Brighton Mountain. During the winter, Brighton is popular for snowboarding, while during summer it has some great hikes. We didn't arrive until about 3pm so we choose just to do the two mile roundtrip hike to Lake Mary and back.

On the way up to Lake Mary, we stopped at a pond where we had been told there was a moose. Upon arrival, there was such a moose lounging in the cool water of the pond. We didn't get to close since everyone knows moose are extremely volatile animals who will attack you if you piss them off. Getting too close with your camera and making loud noises while the poor guy is trying to soak and relax counts as pissing them off. So we kept a respectful distance and, thanks to my awesome camera, still got some great pictures.

From there we finished the hike at Lake Mary, a result of snow runoff that collects above a man-made dam. The water was mirror smooth and reflected the vivid blue of the sky. It was utterly silent along the banks with the exception of a chipmunk who was cracking a nut on the rock. We took a nap on the hot sandstone rocks in this peaceful sanctuary and then began our descent passed a myriad of wildflowers.

Exhausted from our active morning we spent a few hours lying around watching CSI New York chowing down on our Chipotle burritos and then prepared for our evening out at Gracie's. Gracie's is a relatively new bar in downtown Salt Lake with two floors and an outdoor patio with live music. There was a five dollar cover AND you had to pay for parking which was a little irksome but at least this bar, unlike Sue's, was more upscale. The clientele was still lacking a little but that at least afforded me with tons of great people-watching opportunities. The outdoor bar was pretty limited in terms of drinks but the inside one had quite a few varieties. Utah seems to love Shock Top Wheat which is one of my favorite beers that was quite satisfying.

Unfortunately, the nachos I ordered were not. I still struggle to understand this plate of nachos. It featured your normal sour cream, jalapenos, grilled chicken, and guacamole on a bed of tortilla chips. However, it had both melted, shredded cheddar cheese AND globs of fake from the plastic tube cheese as well. We are talking the kind of tube cheese that comes with Dodger nachos. I HATE tube cheese. My only way to enjoy the nachos was to make a "rejection platter" where I placed all the chips that had been contaminated by the tube cheese. It ended up being most of them. Sigh. A troublesome end to my night but at least I had the rest of my Chipotle at home in the fridge...

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Utah must have known I was coming to visit because today is Salt Lake Oktoberfest. Why it's in August was beyond me. But before we headed to the festivities, my friend gave me a quick tour of downtown Salt Lake including the Mormon Temple, the mayor's mansion, and the University of Utah.

From there we drove up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the base of Snowbird, another ski area. Today, the ski lodge was outfitted with plump men and women in Lederhosen selling mugs of beer and bratwurst.

While enjoying our bratwurst we watched a yodeling competition and a dance competition where each couple had to balance an egg in between their foreheads. Again, such a strange place this Utah is. It was greatly amusing though.

After finishing our monstrous mugs of beer we took the tram up the mountain for a breathtaking view of Snowbird and Mineral Valley.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the proper footwear having only prepared for beer drinking but we made our way down the gravel run to the Tunnel. The Tunnel is a newly built feature. It is cut straight into the side of the mountain and runs all the way through to the other side. This allows skiiers a shortcut rather than having to go over the mountain to get to the runs on the opposing slope. It even features a conveyor belt for skiiers to stand on. What a nice touch.

We then took the chairlift back down to Oktoberfest for one final beer before I headed to the airport.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I was not expecting Utah to be a state I would ever choose to visit. But after this trip I have a true appreciation for this Moose State and it has made me greatly look forward to this coming weekend when I head to Bend, Oregon, for more nature activities. I was a little disconcerted by the large number of 25-year-old Mormons with three children but overall, Salt Lake was a beautiful city set in a daunting, yet breathtaking mountain landscape.

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